Picks & Pans

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (New York: Allen Lane, 2014). (TS-3). Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist and psycholinguist who is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. In The Sense of Style, Pinker defends classic style as an metacommunication strategy for writers to communicate effectively with different audiences. He explains how grammar and syntax work as language structures. One of Pinker’s major contributions is a chapter on the ‘arcs of coherence’ – structural forms of paragraphs, sections, and chapters – that writers use. This book will help you to write more efficiently and effectively.

 

DBT Skills Training Manual (2nd edition) by Marsha M. Linehan (New York: The Guilford Press, 2015). (TS-4). In the early 1990s, Lineham developed Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as a specific form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to deal with Borderline Personality Disorder and suicidality. This training manual and the accompanying DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets manual (2nd edition) explain the major DBT frameworks and skills-building exercises, which are influenced by Platonic dianoia (reasoning) strategies to deal with eikasia (imagination) and pistis (emotion).

 

The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy by Nick Gogerty (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). (TS-3) (MAM-3). After the 2007-09 global financial crisis, companies and governments have reacted to the post-bubble draw-down with austerity budgets and ‘efficiency dividends’ (meaning: redundancies and restructures). The language used to defend such decisions is ‘value add’ or ‘value creation’ – taken from General Electric’s former chief executive officer Jack Welch who influenced the operational models used in asset management and private equity firms. Yet on a closer examination this ‘value add’ rhetoric is more often about balanced budgets. Gogerty’s book will equip you with a solid framework for how ‘value creation’ works – drawing in part on the Santa Fe Institute’s frameworks for complex adaptive systems. The Nature of Value also offers insights into the economic models used by the hedge fund Bridgewater. Gogerty builds on the earlier conceptual frameworks in Eric D. Beinhocker’s The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (New York: Random House, 2006) (TS-4). Gogerty’s adaptive economy framework may also help you to understand how complex adaptive systems might work in macroeconomic contexts.

 

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (London: Virgin Books, 2014). (TS-3) (MAM-1). Thiel co-founded the internet firms PayPal and Palantir, was the first outside investor in Facebook, and has funded LinkedIn and Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture. ‘Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things—going from 0 to 1’ (p. 6), Thiel writes, which he equates with technological change. This book distils Thiel’s insights on entrepreneurship and innovation from a Stanford course that co-author Blake Masters took. It deals with the unfolding process of seeking after mysteries – and offers a methodology on how to create more Liberty in the world. Potential Gandalfs and Hari Seldons, take note.

 

The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu and the Rise of Chinaphobia by Christopher Frayling (London: Thames & Hudson, 2014). (TS-4). Frayling is a cultural historian who has written the probably definitive historical and literary analysis of Sax Rohmer’s Dr Fu Manchu novels. Fraying locates the Yellow Peril fears about China in an historical context that includes the British-China opium wars and treaties; racialist stereotyping; and popular culture manifestations. The Yellow Peril can be read illustratively as a case study on the intersection of magic and politics, and operatively as a primer on how societies create villains as Evil, and why.

5th March 2010: ARC Bootstrap Process

House cleaning, gardening, and article writing.

Working through the assessment exercises from Timothy Baldwin, William Bommer and Robert Rubin’s textbook Developing Management Skills: What Great Managers Know and Do (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008), book site here.

Watched Stanford entrepreneurship lecture on Adding Value to Companies.

Martin Van Creveld on a 1998 television interview: soft-spoken, dismisses claims that the ‘future of war’ will be dominated by ‘cyberterrorism’ and other Revolution in Military Affairs trends.

A colleague told me this week of how a professor used the Australian Research Council‘s national competitive grants program as a bootstrap process for promotion to dean. First, they established their expertise, publication track record, and created a cross-institutional and collaborative research team. Second, they split the ARC grant proposal into different components, delegated each to different team members, and then reassembled them into a completed proposal. Third, they ramped up the number of applications to 15-to-20 per year, with a 50% success rate. The grant revenues made a significant contribution to the department funding. The professor was soon promoted to dean.

Foreign Direct Investment In North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Park

For many people North Korea evokes the comic image of the lonely playboy Kim Jong-il in Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s Team America World Police (2004).  I found a more complex sociopolitical reality in 2006 whilst researching a Masters mini-thesis which dealt in part with North Korea’s covert nuclear weapons program.  A week after handing the mini-thesis in Disinformation’s video producer Nimrod Erez sent me links to stark photos of daily life in North Korea’s capital Pyonyang (folio 1, folio 2 & discussion board): deserted highways, military monuments to past battles and derilect residential towers.

Kim Jong-il’s nuclear ambitions were a significant barrier to foreign direct investment (FDI) in North Korea notably under South Korea’s Sunshine Policy to achieve geostrategic stability in the Korean Peninsula.  Jong-il’s nuclear rollback “opens the way” to Hyundai Asan‘s FDI investment in the Kaesong Industrial Park (YouTube promotional video).  South Korea’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) spearhead the FDI initiative which creates an emerging market, provides knowledge transfer, and hedges against country and currency risks.  South Korea’s government further offsets the SME’s country and operational risks with “low-interest loans and insurance.”  The SME’s engagement strategy also benefits emerging market watchers such as the blog North Korean Economic Watch.

If the FDI initiative fails then North Korea officials can always turn Kaesong Industrial Park into a subsidiary of the Erich von Daniken theme park in Interlaken, Switzerland.